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The Anti-Nuclear "Free Republic of Wendland" (May 30, 1980)

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Deaf Ears of Technocrats

The threat posed by the planned waste disposal plant, on the one hand, and the massive border guard, on the other, even brought people who had nothing against peace and order up to then to their feet. Women who had never worried about anything aside from their husbands and children left their kitchens and stepped up to the speaker’s platform. They could no longer hold themselves back: “The arrogance of politicians who don’t mind leaving the dangers of nuclear power to future generations is so shocking that it’s simply beyond me,” said Marianne von Alemann, a fifty-year-old housewife, as we sat for tea and cake in her elegant country home in Prezier. Two years ago, she and her invalid husband, a civil engineer by profession, moved from Düsseldorf to this county, in order finally to live a quiet life. And then they heard: a nuclear reprocessing plant is coming to their backyard.

[ . . . ]

The citizens’ initiative has recently lost its nonprofit, public-service status. The only thing that serves the public is nuclear energy. And the occupation of the site, which many felt was the only possible form of political articulation in a world of deaf-eared technocrats, has been treated in the meantime by the federal interior ministry as more of a “matter of police discretion.”

Fear, resignation, and attrition are the changing expressions of people in Gorleben: “Nothing but fighting, fighting, fighting and still, the nuclear plans are moving forward step by step. You give everything you have and then …” (Rebecca Harms).

The only thing that offers hope is the occupation of the site itself. In the 1981 local elections (in which nuclear energy opponents want to run their own candidates), the occupation should contribute to a revision of the current local and county assembly resolutions, so that a rejection of the interim storage site can be pushed through.

The initial skepticism toward the – illegal – site occupation has been largely resolved. “1004” has become a kind of pilgrimage site. Even invalid veterans on crutches come and bring their “gifts”: food, straw, wood, bread – often so much that it cannot be accepted. Even suitcases filled with medicine are brought to the first-aid house, “so you can treat your injuries if anything should happen when you are evicted.”

Once, a pastor from Gartow was looking for one of his confirmation candidates, so that she could decorate the church. When he called her at home to ask where she was, her mother answered indignantly, “She’s at 1004, right where she should be!”

Source: Cornelia Frey, “Wachsam in Holzpalästen” [“Watchful in Wooden Palaces: Anti-Nuclear Activists Offer Resistance in Gorleben ‘Peace Village’”], Die Zeit, May 30, 1980.

Translation: Allison Brown

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